Natural Hygiene: The Greatest Health Discovery
By: Chris Beckett
This article is dedicated to all health-truth seekers everywhere, in the hope that
the knowledge within it will inspire you as it did me; a system of health
recovery, maintenance based on natural law, which saved my life from
Leukemia 30 years ago, just as one day it may also save yours!
Early in the 19th Century a remarkable health discovery was made that tore
away the mystery that surrounded disease, revolutionized the care of the sick,
saved countless thousands from premature death (so prevalent in that period),
and was the advent of a period of physiological enlightenment for both
medical and laymen alike.
This discovery, known as Natural Hygiene, and the pioneers who fought to
bring its truths to light, constituted an incredible piece of American history that
involved Statesmen and World famous figures.
This article is just part of the absorbing story of the evolution of Natural
Hygiene, the movement which was built around it, its struggle to gain
acceptance for principles that were based on natural law and a rudimentary
understanding of the amazing but glorious health potential it holds for
humanity as a whole.
What is Natural Hygiene?
Natural Hygiene is defined as being the science and fine-art of preserving and
restoring health by those substances, agencies, and influences that have a
normal relation to life, which are: pure food, pure water, sunlight, rest, sleep,
relaxation, exercise, play, warmth, family relationships, and all healthful mental
Hygiene is neither a system of medicine, nor one of the healing arts, nor a
system of therapeutics. It offers the client no cures, has no cures, denies all
cures, does not pretend to cure; but it permits nature or the body to heal itself.
Viewed this way, Hygiene is not just fasting, or dieting, vegetarianism, food
combining, or any one life- element of living, but a combination of all of life’s
agencies in such manner and degree as Nature can use, to realize the
maximum physical and mental healing potential of the body.
The Principles of Natural Hygiene
The human body has basic physical, physiological, emotional and spiritual
needs – about 19 have been identified - such as proper food, sunshine, rest,
sleep, exercise, water, emotional poise, gregarious social gathering etc.
These needs have to be supplied at the appropriate time in the appropriate
amounts for abundantly good health to be achieved.
If this is fulfilled, the human body can manage and take care of itself, resulting
in superb robust health. If these needs are supplied either in excess or as a
deficiency, or if other alien substances are consumed by the body, sickness
eventually becomes inevitable.
The human body is self-preserving, self-maintaining, and self-healing. All that
is required from us is to remove the causes of the problem, rest (go to bed)
and preferably stop eating (fast), since the body will use the energy saved
from not having to digest food, for the incredibly powerful healing & cleansing
processes of the body to be initiated.
Body processes are very complex. In most cases, any medical intervention
only results in further problems and complications; so the most effective
course of action is to just leave the body "intelligently alone" to handle its own
Only in certain life threatening cases, or in cases of accidents, trauma etc is it
possible to do something (via emergency, surgery etc) to help the body.
If we also listen to our body it gives us very clear signals as to what it needs
and what it does not need. For example, tiredness means it needs sleep,
hunger - food, thirst - water.
A coughing fit after your first smoke indicates it does not want tobacco. We
have to heed the signals of the body at all times. Lack of, or no appetite is a
clear signal from Nature that food is not required from outside, but internal
feeding or “fasting” means that you will be feeding from your own food
reserves while your body heals and cleanses.
Man can live for only minutes without air, days without water, and weeks
without food. Even the thinnest of individuals have a store of food reserves
from which they can feed from in times of deprivation, disease and/or injury.
Natural Hygiene believes that an adulterated Diet and improper living habits
are the primary reason for sickness and disease, but by eating a diet high in
natural, whole, raw organic foods (at least 50%, preferably 80-85%) we can
avoid most illnesses. It is recommended that cooked food should be
minimized and processed food avoided altogether.
Poison habits such as smoking, drinking, and drugs also need to be
1822: Isaac Jennings, M.D. of Fairfield, Connecticut, having practiced medicine
for 20 years and being thoroughly discouraged with the results, began to
administer placebos of bread pills, starch powders, and colored water tonics
to patients, while instructing them in healthful living.
1822 - 1832: Dr. Jennings and physiologist minister Sylvester Graham started
a healing system called "Orthopathy". During the following few decades, a
group of health-conscious doctors and citizens boldly claimed that Nature
knows better than the most learned physicians.
Citizens of this country were fed-up with failures and contradictions of the
then current medical practice and theory. The truths proclaimed by Jennings
and Graham found immediate and widespread acceptance.
After becoming fully convinced of the correctness of his "Let-Alone Plan" "Do-
Nothing Cure" and the "No-Medicine Plan" Jennings announced his discovery
to the world, but he is misunderstood. Because of his pioneering impact
Jennings is credited with being "The Father of Natural Hygiene."
1830 - 1832: For several years Graham lectured nationwide on the relationship
of physiology to Hygiene and gained a large following, especially among the
common working people.
In just a few years, he published "The Graham Journal of Health and
Longevity" established the Library of the American Physiologic Society;
opened the nation's first health food stores, health book stores and health
food restaurants; and founded numerous "Grahamite" health retreats and
1833: Dr. Russell Thacker Trall, M.D, emerged as a great mastermind of
Hygienic "Hygieo Therapy" which combined the use of all Hygienic agents into
one holistic system. A brilliant thinker and articulate debater, Dr. Trall publicly
challenged the entire medical establishment on their theory and practice,
always emerging as the victor.
1844: Dr. Joel Shew introduced the European system of "Hydrotherapy" to the
United States, a "curing treatment" which used little or no drugs while
employing water as the main therapeutic agent.
Hydropathists adopted the Hygieo-Therapy (Natural Hygiene) dietary and
exercise plan, as well as its emphasis on fresh air and sunlight.
American physicians who had lost faith in drugging but lacked belief in
Hygiene adopted Hydrotherapy wholesale as both became intertwined and
indistinguishable for several years.
1830 - 1860: Scores of Hygienic homes, schools and sanitariums opened
throughout the country. Dr. Harriet Austin and James Jackson founded the
largest Natural Hygiene institution in the world, "Our Home on the Hillside"
with 250 beds.
Seventy-five hydrotherapy (water-cure) institutions were founded. During this
time, over 80 "health papers" effectively reached the masses, which coincided
with an improvement in the hygienic habits of Americans.
1852: Natural Hygiene was so enthusiastically received and popularized that
its practitioners outnumbered those of allopathic, homeopathic and
chiropractic medicine combined.
1853: Dr. Russell Trall, M.D, founded the New York College of Hygieo-Therapy
to educate competent health practitioners. This inaugurated a new era in
medical science, theory, philosophy and practice that was in variance with
prevailing allopathic doctrines of the time.
1861: Dr Trall, who had once been a practicing Hydropathist, announced a
formal declaration separating Hydrotherapy from Hygieo-Therapeutics
(Natural Hygiene) by stating: "water possesses no power whatsoever to cure
any disease. Nature is the remedial principle".
1862: Dr Trall delivered a landmark lecture at the Smithsonian Institute in
Washington D.C. before the most distinguished medical minds of the United
States entitled "The True Healing Art, or Hygiene vs. Medication". The lecture
was widely published and circulated among the populace, and the health
reform movement in America reached its height. Ironically, in 1861, with the
onset of the Civil War, national attention focused on survival, and health
1861 - 1865: The Civil War caused Hygienic institutions everywhere to close.
The health reform movement was halted as the war impoverished the nation.
Schools and sanitariums were wrecked and the common citizen could no
longer afford Hygienic educational literature.
1864: French chemist Louis Pasteur fathered "The Science of Bacteriology"
and "The Germ Theory of Disease" by demonstrating the existence of
It concluded that "germs" cause pathogenic change in living cultures within
laboratory experiments. With Pasteur, a new era in modem medicine was
inaugurated, including sterilization, pasteurization, vaccination, and fear of
The prevailing "germ era" helped usher in the decline of 19th century health
reform. Not only did people develop germ-phobia, but they also found
complacency in blaming their ill health on malevolent invading bacteria, rather
than taking responsibility for their own poor lifestyle choices.
1881: Clara Barton, student of Hygiene founds the American Red Cross and
becomes its first president.
1900 - 1940: Dr. J. H. Tilden, after thoroughly reading 19th century Hygienic
literature, became convinced that disease need not be experienced.
Tilden conducted a private practice to teach patients how to eliminate body
toxicity; he lectured widely; wrote 25 books; and widely circulated a monthly
magazine both in this country and abroad.
1909 - 1910: The infamous Flexner Report ended health-care reform in the
States, as alternative schools of healing were shutdown nationwide, under the
influence of the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations.
1924-1940: Tilden opened and operated a Hygienic school and sanitarium in
Denver, Colorado. In 1926, he published the famous book "Toxemia
Explained" which identified the primary cause of ALL disease as toxemia (a
state of internal pollution) brought on by debilitating, enervating, and
unhealthful living practices. In the meantime, medical authorities strongly
opposed and condemned Tilden.
1920: Dr. Herbert M. Shelton wrote the first of 40 books in his efforts to revive
Natural Hygiene. Over the next 50 years, many of Dr. Shelton's books were
translated into eight languages.
1928 - 1981: Dr. Shelton's Health School operated in San Antonio, Texas and
included a clinic, laboratory, and educational program. Well over 60,000 fasts
were professionally supervised.
According to Shelton, "the sick get well, the well get better, and all gain the
priceless knowledge needed to stay well". Throughout his career, Shelton was
considered a threat to medicine. He is repeatedly threatened and jailed over
1948: The American Natural Hygiene Society was founded. Several
chiropractors and laymen elected Shelton as its first president. Annual
conventions were held, and 30 chapters worldwide are established, some of
which are still active today. Current membership in the U.S., however, is below
1939 - 1980: Shelton published the monthly magazine Hygienic Review
popularizing and reviving Natural Hygiene worldwide for 20th century
From 1934 - 1941, Shelton also wrote and published the seven volume series
entitled The Hygienic System, which became the basis for Hygienic study.
1970: At age 44, Terrance C. Fry read Shelton's book "Superior Nutrition" and
became a hygienist overnight.
Within a few years, he wrote and self-published several easy-to-read booklets
and books popularizing Natural Hygiene, some of which were in contrast to
Shelton's formidable text-books and manuals.
1982: T.C. Fry founded the Life Science Institute and published Healthful
Living magazine with a circulation of 30,000. Fry also developed a Natural
Hygiene teacher training course, a 2200 page, 111-lesson home study
curriculum. The Life Science Institute also produced audio and
videocassettes on Natural Hygiene and offered retreats and seminars to
students and to the general public.
1986-1988: Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, after years of counseling, teaching
and study with Life Science Institute, wrote “Fit For Life” the best-selling health
and diet book in history. A second book “Living Health” followed.
Warner Brothers published and provided extensive national coverage through
media and conferences, which popularized Natural Hygiene for millions of
1990's: Many Hygienic organizations and practitioners continued operating
educational programs, retreats, sanitariums, and private practices, although
relatively few were directed by those with "recognized" credentials.
1995 - 1997: Art Baker serving as Dean of Students of Life Science Institute
enrolled nearly 1,000 students into the Natural Hygiene correspondence
program before the company veered from its Natural Hygiene roots and
focused on digestive enzyme supplements, as it was sold off to a group in
1996: Inspired by T. C. Fry's Healthful Living, David Klein published the first
issue of Living Nutrition Magazine, "The True Voice of Hygiene."
1999: Healthful Living International (HLI) is founded by a dynamic group of
pure Natural Hygiene educators and practitioners (Healthful Living
Consultants) whose mission was to incorporate knowledge of total wellness
of body, mind and spirit into teaching pure true Natural Hygiene.
The Healthful Living Consultants were the first international professional
association of Natural Hygiene practitioners that included licensed doctors
and professional health educators and counselors.
Differences Between Natural Hygiene and Alternative Medicine
Natural Hygiene stands unique amongst all other therapies and healing
sciences in that it alone insists that there is no such thing as cure - only self-
All other therapies try to deal with the symptoms using this therapy or that.
Herbs, Magnets, Needles, lotions, potions, light, heat, mud etc.
In Natural Hygiene there is no therapy, no treatment. Natural hygiene does not
try to treat symptoms - it is the Only system that insists on discovering the
cause of the disease and eliminating that cause.
Natural Hygiene and Naturopathy
Although these terms are used interchangeably, there is a World of difference
between them. "Pathy" means "disease". Naturopathy means using natural
ways to deal with disease. This includes a proper diet, massage and mud
baths, water baths etc.
Pure Natural Hygiene does not recognize all these treatments - only adjusting
the diet, sunbaths and air baths are recognized.
By: Chris Beckett
Article: Natural Hygiene: The Greatest Health Discovery